Kumrat, 26 October 2021 (TDI): The Delegation of ambassadors of Peace and Love, members of Line Club visited Kumrat, Chitral on a four-day visit.

During the visit, the delegation also visited Kailash Valley where gifts were distributed among Kailash women from Pakistan-Australia Strategic Forum to facilitate them regarding upcoming religious festival Chattar Mass (Choimus) in December.

The Kailash Community

The Kalasha people inhabit in Chitral’s three valleys: Bumboret, Birir, and Rumbur. The community is estimated to have a population of approximately 3,000 people, making it Pakistan’s smallest minority group.

Chitral valley, Pakistan

Origin of the Kalasha

The Alexandrian hypothesis

The Kalash people are described as animists and nature worshippers. According to Global Human Rights Defence report titled “Tribe of Kalash: The Last Kafir”, the Kalasha are the last of the inhabitants of ‘Kafiristan,’ which originally covered the entirety of northwest Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan before being partitioned by the Durand line.

While some have long thought they are related to the Greeks who arrived in South Asia with Alexander the Great, there is little actual evidence to back that claim. However, the Kalasha have come to believe that they are descendants of one General Shalakshah of Alexander’s army.

The Kalasha maintain their own religious beliefs, as well as their own identity, culture, and language. Because of the Kalasha people’s light skin and blue eyes, it was widely assumed that they were of Greek descent, notably the descendants of Alexander the Great’s warriors who accompanied him on his mission to India. In Pakistan, the theory that the Kalasha people were originally Greek has been officially supported.

The Kalasha people settled in the Chitral region during the era of Cyrus the Great, another conqueror whose campaigns paralleled Alexander the Great’s. The Kalasha people had been living in the Chitral region for almost four thousand years, the claim that they are Alexander’s descendants is unfounded because they were already existing in the area long before Alexander the Great arrived.

The Aryan hypothesis

According to modern studies, the Kalasha are described as “Indian Aryans”. The provincial Archeological Department recently uncovered a 5,000-year-old graveyard in Chitral’s Shindor district with the help of foreign archaeology specialists”. According to the experts that studied the graves, the people who live in the area are Indian Aryans. The government, on the other hand, do not force the Kalasha people to admit that they are not Alexander the Great’s descendants. The Kalasha people take pride in their association with the great conqueror.

Community of festivals

The ancient tribe has long kept its cultural mores and rituals from the ‘outside,’ living in harmony with nature in three valleys of the Hindu Kush mountains. They worship a pantheon of gods and goddesses and celebrate flamboyant festivals based on the seasons and farming year.

In Kalash valley, there are three festive seasons each year: Choimus, Joshi, and Uchaw.

The most important event is Choimus, which takes place in December to commemorate the end of the year. To welcome their god, Balaumain, who is said to visit them during the celebration, the Kalasha sing and dance around a fire and sacrifice goats.

The men and women of Kailash community enjoying the Choimus eve.

The Joshi celebration ushers in the arrival of spring. Every year in May, for a week, it takes place. Everyone is expected to wear new clothes, and women are expected to be richly bejewelled. They sing and dance on the mountain. They also put up decorations in their homes.

Before the harvest season, the valley celebrates the Uchaw or Uchal celebration. And, like the others, this holiday is marked by dancing and singing as a thank you to Mother Nature for providing them with barley and wheat.